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Highway attacks, muddy roads constraining humanitarian access – OCHA

Author: Chany Ninrew | Published: October 10, 2023

A truck stuck in a muddy road in South Sudan. | Photo: via WFP

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said attacks against aid workers and assets as well as bad roads have hindered humanitarian response and impeded the movement of people displaced into South Sudan.

The agency says it recorded 28 incidents related to humanitarian access constraints in South Sudan in August 2023, with 11 of which involved violence against humanitarian personnel and assets.

According to UNOCHA, the majority of these incidents occurred in Upper Nile State.

It further stated that the rainy season had a significant impact on physical access throughout the country.

“Poor road conditions on primary supply routes to Rotriak, Panakuach/Payangai, Koch and Leer resulted in a shrinking physical road network,” it said.

“An incident on 15 August saw trucks dispatched from Bentiu by IOM to pick up returnees from Nyirop port getting stuck in the mud, leaving over 1,000 returnees stranded in Nyirop port.”

In Bor County of Jonglei State, OCHA said physical inaccessibility and security risks on the roads posed substantial challenges to the onward movement of South Sudanese returnees from Sudan to other counties through the Bor Transit Centre.

It said over 250 individual returnees were stranded, leaving costly airlifting as the only viable option despite funding constraints.

“Concerns persisted in Upper Nile State, where humanitarian workers continued to grapple with demands for payment of taxes and fees, along with interference in recruitment processes in Renk, Fashoda and Malakal counties.”

“The massive influx of returnees and refugees, coupled with limited humanitarian resources and transportation options, heightened tensions in the community – including one incident of an uprising of the community against humanitarian workers demanding onward transport.”

The agency says since April 2023, more than 250,000 people arrived in South Sudan from Sudan – currently ravaged by fighting between rival military factions.

“This surge in arrivals has placed additional strain on reception and transit centres and IDP sites. Increasing needs and shrinking humanitarian assistance has created additional humanitarian access constraints, including increase in threats against humanitarian personnel and looting of assets.”

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